The Bob Knowlton Case Study

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15 April 2016

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Bob Knowlton is the head of the Photon Lab when a new member, Simon Fester, was introduced to his lab. He begins to feel inferior to his new member and feels that he cannot voice his concerns to his superior, Dr. Jerold. After a period of events and insecurities, he finds a better position with more salary and takes the job immediately. Dr, Jerrold and Fester were shocked by Knowlton’s decision. The lab took a large hit as Fester went on to work on another project as planned. No one knew that Knowlton wanted to leave as he did so very suddenly citing fictional ‘personal’ problems.

Analyze the roles of those involved

The main characters in the Bob Knowlton case were:

Bob Knowlton
– the team leader of Photon Lab
– collaborative team leader
– hard working man
– confidence easily wavered by insecurities
– does not voice out problems

Dr. Jerrold
– the supervisor of Bob Knowlton and his team
– has very high expectations of those working under her
– not observant
– no instinctual perception

Simon Fester
– a new comer to the company and Photon Lab
– confident
– aggressive
– competitive
– opportunist
– highly intelligent
– non paticipative

Discuss the reasons as to why what happened happened.

The bringing in the newcomer:

Bob Knowlton
– was threatened by the newcomer that was not properly introduced to him – Fester just showed up without warning and began looking into things

Dr. Jerold
– did not introduce Fester
– did not even for mention or hint at Knowlton for possibly having someone new join his team

Simon Fester
– lacked tact and the human touch
– was too confident and arrogant to accept the way people do things and embrace it

The communication breakdown:

Bob Knowlton
– did not voice his queries or insecurities
– simply assumed that Fester was there to replace him
– did not consider speaking to his supervisor regarding his problem and started looking for another job instead

Dr. Jerold
– did not indicate that Fester’s place in Knowlton’s team was temporary – did not give earlier warning regarding Fester’s transfer to another project – did not make any intentions of caring for Knowlton’s well being

Simon Fester
– too much of an opportunist to work in a team with others
– did not heed the advice of whom was rightfully his team leader – remained individualistic and closed off to the team until he left to work for another project

Consider the personalities involved, especially those of Knowlton and Fester, and the organizational characteristics.

Bob Knowlton was more of an introvert. He did not share his feelings,opinions and conflicts with his team mates, Fester or Jerold. He lacked also lacked of strong of communication skills. He did not know how to voice his concerns to Jerold or properly inform an guide Fester on his responsibilities in the team, which lead to Fester doing his own thing most of the time, without consulting with others.

Simon Fester on the other hand was someone very self involved and confident. He had no qualms speaking openly of his ideas and what he wanted to do. Fester was also aggressive in his approach. He did not care for group work and was more individualistic, even to the point of making others feel inferior.

Organizational characteristic:

Work Group

Knowlton had regular morning meetings with his members as a way to keep up to date of what was going on in the project, and discuss problems faced. However, Fester took over some of these meetings plastering himself as the team leader, and spear heading discussions, undermining Knowlton’s authority and the intelligence of the team at many an occasion.

Open System

Jerrold and Knowlton shared a mostly open relationship, Knowlton even mentioned that he enjoyed Jerold coming over to talk to him at the end of the day. However, Knowlton did not share his problems with his superior when he had the chance of voicing them; mainly when he felt threatened by Fester’s place in the team.

Imagine yourself in the position of Dr. Jerrold at the end of the case, reflecting back over the events. Is there anything you could have done, on the basis of what you knew or could have known at the time, that would have led to a more favorable outcome? State your reasoning.

Dr.Jerrold could have utilized a better interpersonal communication skill.

Had she made clear that she was going to hire Simon Fester and taken into consideration Bob Knowlton’s personality, explaining her intentions to train him to lead another project, things might have worked out very differently. Knowlton could have been less insecure regarding his position and would probably been more willing to overlook Fester’s lone ranger tendencies.

Had Dr. Jerrold utilized interpersonal communication with Simon Fester as well, ensuring that Fester should try to work under the conditions laid out by his team leader, Fester might have better understood where he stood within the team and made more of an effort to be a team player as intelligent or talented as he may be.

Dr. Jerrold could have also been more involved with the meetings, and taken an initiative to ensure that all employees were happy and satisfied.

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StudyScroll. (2016). The Bob Knowlton Case Study. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 28-Jan-2023]

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